A German court has ruled that the administrator of an Edonkey server can not be held liable for infringing downloads facilitated through the server if he takes reasonable steps to prevent such downloads. The court ruled against Warner Music Germany, which had sued the administrator last summer after they discovered songs of a Warner Music artist indexed by the server. Warner initially prevailed in court, but the admin appealed the ruling and was now able to defeat the major label, according to heise.de.

Warner Music initially contacted the Edonkey server admin through their lawyer to stop the trading of an individual CD. The admin in question complied, putting keyword filters in place to make sure that the songs in question wouldn't get indexed again. Warner however discovered soon after that a different CD by the same artist was still available through the server and sued.

The court now decided that the admin didn't participate directly in the infringement because his server did not actually host the audio files. It also ruled that there was no intentional facilitation of infringement because Warner's lawyers couldn't prove that the Edonkey network wasn't at its core a neutral network. The court finally decided that a keyword-based filtering system was enough to stop infringement and that the server admin wasn't required to proactively stop future infringements of titles that were not part of the original complaint.

This decision is a pretty substantial defeat, and the fact that it happened in an appeals court adds some additional weight to it. One should however remember that Germany and most other European countries don't share the US concept of common law, meaning that this isn't necessarily a legal precedence for other court cases.

Tags: , , , , , ,